A strong and thriving Europe, grounded in dialogue and collaboration

More multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration are needed to promote new ideas and scalable solutions to address Europe’s most pressing challenges

By Wouter Vermeulen

Wouter Vermeulen is the Vice President, Public Policy & Sustainability, Coca-Cola Europe.

21 May 2024

In a few weeks, 370 million Europeans will elect the new members of the European Parliament and will begin a process of renewal of key roles in European institutions. Coca-Cola has been producing drinks locally in Europe for over a century, sharing the continent’s challenges and opportunities. I am proud to work for a company that is so deeply rooted in the EU, running facilities from Antwerp to Zagreb alongside our bottling partners[1], adding 47 billion euros to the European economy and supporting 783,000 jobs across our value chain. Most importantly, I am proud to work for a company that shares the ambition of an ever strong and thriving Europe.

As a consumer-centric business, we remain closely attuned to the expectations and concerns of people in Europe. We believe in partnerships with stakeholders and policymakers to provide a bridge into real-life experiences of people and businesses to ensure that policy frameworks are informed by day-to-day realities. The extent to which we seek to understand and engage people isn’t limited to the remit of our business: we have supported Debating Europe’s “2024 Voices – Citizens Speak Up!”[2] recent study exploring what citizens expect from EU and national policymakers in the next five-years. Their findings included the need to accelerate on the green transition and the call for sustainable and inclusive growth. From next week throughout 2024, with Debating Europe, the citizen engagement unit of the think tank Friends of Europe, we will be addressing these topics with citizens, companies and policymakers, contributing to Friends of Europe’s work to design a ‘Renewed Social Contract for Europe by 2030’[3].  

We will begin with a deep dive on water resilience, a critical theme for citizens and Europe’s sustainability agenda and the topic of the upcoming EU Green Week. Water is essential to life, communities, and to our business as Coca-Cola. In Europe and globally, we are accelerating to reduce water stress, protect local and shared water resources and help build community climate resilience. Through The Coca-Cola Foundation we are supporting the work of NGOs, such as Natuurpunt in Flanders, to restore natural wetlands so that they can recapture water, which in turn benefits the environment and biodiversity. Another example is the work with WWF in Central and Eastern Europe, The Living Danube Partnership, to support and promote river and wetland restoration across the Danube basin.

Now, more than ever, brands can play a meaningful role to support the transition to the inclusive, net zero and digital societies of the future. Brands are catalysts for change through responsible leadership and innovation. Investing in research and development drives innovation, creates new opportunities and inspires the next generation to strive for positive change. Change that can be accelerated with the right cross-sectoral collaboration.

[1] Coca-Cola Europacific Partners and Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company

[3] More information available here: https://www.friendsofeurope.org/initiatives/renewed-social-contract/

In partnership with


This article was produced in partnership with Coca-Cola in Europe.